High Priest

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"The Pope of Dope"

Tim Leary, “Pope of Dope,” CIA’s High Priest of the Drug Culture?

Leary (1920-1996) has been called, tongue in cheek, the “Spy Who Came in From the Mold,” an allusion to the fact LSD is manufactured from ergot mold—ergotamine. Insiders say, at the inception of the psychedelic revolution, Leary seemed more compelled by power than spirituality, though his rhetoric was laced with spiritual references. Perhaps there was too much Lephraucan in this guru to e too serious. He seemed best suited to his late-life role – stand up philosopher.

Beginning in the 1950s the Central Intelligence Agency began a research program code named Project MKULTRA.  Experiments included administering LSD to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, prostitutes, mentally ill patients, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions, usually without the subject's knowledge.

The MKU project was revealed in the US congressional Rockefeller Commission report.  When former CIA Director, Admiral Stansfield Turner was asked whether or not the CIA supported Timothy Leary or gave Leary LSD, he replied only, “The CIA gave it to those who were doing the research.”

Prior to October 6th, 1966, LSD was available legally in the United States as an experimental psychiatricdrug.  LSD "apostle" Al Hubbard actively promoted the drug between the 1950s and the 1970s and introduced thousands of people to it.  The US Federal Government classified it as a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Whether offical or not, Leary qualifies as an  agent provocateur.  He was an "inciting agent", a person who secretly disrupts a group's activities from within the group. Agents provocateurs typically represent the interests of another group, or are agents directly assigned to provoke unrest, violence, debate, or argument by or within a group while acting as a member of the group.

Was the Summer of Love a summer of mind control, too?  Was the entire counterculture “sleeping with the enemy,” the CIA, by taking LSD trips?  “Go ask Alice” was an invitation down the hyperdimensional rabbithole for a whole generation. 

The unwary CIA victims got no such invitation, and their toxic reactions to being dosed unawares mimicked psychotic breaks.  The first scientifically conducted trips were often “bad trips.”  Was the entire Baby Boom unwittingly vicimized?

LSD produced by Eli Lilly was released into an ocean of war protest with the specific agenda to distract and discredit this youthful peace movement.  The war between liberals and conservatives has been carefully engineered to deflect attention into self-indulgence and provincial religiosity.  The conservatives were locked and loaded against the Flower Children and Hippies.

The coup took place from within with the seemingly willing cooperation of influential leaders, who while they weren’t “in” on the plot, certainly popularized and fostered it.  And the High Priest at the top of the list, Harvard psychology professor Timothy Leary, certainly fit the old Tavistock mold.  Early in his career he wrote an exemplary psychological test that was used for profiling prisoners, and choosing CIA employees.  In an interview for High Times magazine in February 1978, Leary said:

If you look back, many things that we thought were accidents turned out were not accidents. The entire LSD movement itself was sponsored originally by the CIA, to whom I give great credit. I would not be here today if it had not been for the foresight and prestige of the CIA psychologists, so give the CIA credit for being truly an intelligence agency. ”

Mind control researcher Walter Bowart interviewed Leary in the 1970s, and the acid guru had some interesting things to say about his association with the CIA. Asked, “Do you think CIA people were involved in your group in the sixties?” Leary responded, “Of course they were. I would say that eighty percent of my movements, eighty percent of the decisions I made were suggested to me by CIA people… I like the CIA! The game they’re playing is better than the FBI. Better than the Saigon police. Better than Franco’s police. Better than the Israeli police. They’re a thousand times better than the KGB. So it comes down to: whom are you going to work for? The Yankees or the Dodgers?”

That conspiracy goes back to the 1930s, when the British sent Aldous Huxley to the United States as the case officer for an operation to prepare the United States for the mass dissemination of drugs. We will take this conspiracy apart step-by-step from its small beginnings with Huxley in California to the victimization of 15 million Americans today. With ‘The Aquarian Conspiracy’, the British Opium War against the United States has come out into the open.

Bowart reports finding stronger evidence of Leary/CIA links:

While doing research for my book, Operation Mind Control (originally published in 1978), I'd come across a CIA document with Leary's name on it. The CIA memo directed agents to contact Leary and company, who were then operating an organization called International Federation for Internal Freedom ( IFIF). The memo asked its agents to discover if any agency personnel were taking acid with this group. The CIA wanted to determine what IFIF really knew about what was then billed as "the most powerful drug known to man," LSD, a drug which the agency was experimenting with in an attempt to create mind controlled zombies.

Another, earlier similar CIA document I found ordered agents to contact Aldous Huxley for the same reason. There were no follow-up documents to indicate whether the CIA had, or had not, made contact in either instance. Still, other documents indicated that Leary had received money channeled by the CIA through various government agencies. The files showed that, in all, there were eight government grants paid to Leary from 1953 to 1958, most of them paid through the National Institute of Mental Health, now known to have "fronted" for the CIA in the MKULTRA program. (Bowart)

When Bowart asked, "Do you think CIA people were involved in your group in the sixties?" He reports, ithout hesitating Leary said, "Of course they were. I would say that eighty percent of my movements, eighty percent of the decisions I made were suggested to me by CIA people.”

Leary admitted to Bowart that even in the 60s he knew he was being wittingly used by intelligence agencies.  He claimed from 1962 forward he operated as an intelligence agent aware of the world struggle for the control of minds – of consciousness.  He wanted to be on the winning side.

"What are you doing for the CIA?" Bowart asked, disbelieving everything he said.

"I'm raising the intelligence of an elite... a very elite group of Americans," he said. "So I think the future of freedom depends on a very small group of people who are smart enough to defend that liberty..." “…nobody ever recruited me. People came and advised me to do this or that. I didn't know that I was being advised by the CIA. I assume now, that I was being advised by the CIA..."

Then he back-pedalled, again declaring that CIA sponsored his and all other personality assessment research, inluding that used to assess those for CIA employment and other intelligence agencies.  They also supported J.B. Rhine’s ESP experiments at Duke University.  He was relatively clueless about other LSD researchers, such as Walter Pankhe and Stanislav Grof.

The whole question is muddied by the possibility Leary was trying to make money as a writer on MK Ultra, and wanted to increase his journalistic credibility.  Many thought he was just lying, which was a frequent passtime for him on which his best friends give him a mixed review.Others contend he himself was a victim of chemical and electronic mind control in prison, designed to break and “turn” him.  Did he turn state’s evidence for a “get out of jail, free card?”  FBI records indicate it is so. [  .]

Either way, wittingly or unwittingly, truth or lie, the “king of the hippies” was a pawn in CIA’s Great Game of global manipulation.  “Why not indeed?”  Isn’t the REAL question just WHO is directing the Skull and Bones “retail outlet,” CIA?

Close to his death, Leary said, “Everybody gets the Timothy Leary that they deserve.”

What's New with My Subject?

Wilderness of Mirrors

In September 1942, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), wartime precursor to CIA, began searching for a drug that forces subjects of interrogation, such as captured Nazi U-boat crews, to reveal secrets. As project director Dr. Stanley Lovell wanted a"truth drug.

Mary Meyer is deeply connected to CIA, and dispensing LSD to the President of the United States.  Kennedy was no stranger to drugs taking pain pills for his back and amphetamines for endless campaign tours.  But Mary was "brainwashing" him, according to directions of Harvard psychologist, Dr. Timothy Leary who had designed a personality test used by CIA. Many of his colleagues were CIA sponsored.

Cord Meyer joined CIA late in 1950, working in its International Relations Division, which he soon managed. This division covertly financed, infiltrated, and encouraged noncommunist liberal-left movements and institutions, such as labor unions, creative-academic societies, and student groups.  He lectured Leary about communism, and the importance of liberal resistance to it. Leary later credits Meyer with "helping me understand my political-cultural role more clearly."

April 13, 1953: CIA launches Operation MK/ULTRA, a major drug and mind-control program. Through a front organization called The Society For Human Ecology, CIA begins sponsoring $25 million in research into the effects of mind-altering drugs -- LSD, psilocybin and mescaline -- at Harvard University and in the San Francisco-Oakland area, including Stanford and Berkeley.

1954-59: Leary is director of clinical research and psychology at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland. He devises a personality test, "The Leary," which is used by CIA to test prospective employees. He has also become a close friend to Frank Barron, a graduate school classmate who has been working for CIA since at least 1953. Barron works at the Berkeley Institute for Personality Assessment and Research, which Leary will later acknowledge is "funded and staffed by OSS-CIA psychologists."

In 1960-61, Barron founds the Harvard Pyschedelic Drug Research Center. Leary follows Barron to Harvard and becomes a lecturer in psychology. After Barron administers to him some CIA-supplied psilocybin and LSD, Leary begins tripping regularly. He also studies the effects of psycheledics on others in controlled experiments.

He later admits to knowing, at the time, that "some powerful people in Washington have sponsored all this drug research." In addition to Barron, Leary's associates and assistants during this period include former OSS chief pyschologist Harry Murray, who had montiored military experiments on Truth-Drug brainwashing and interrogation, and Martin Orne, a researcher receiving funds from CIA.

Leary also consults British philosopher Aldous Huxley, author of the psychedelic manifesto, The Doors of Perception  Huxley was at Harvard on a visiting professorship. He concocted a sort of psychedelic “domino theory.” (from which Jim Morrision would later take name his band).

Huxley urged Leary to form a secret order of LSD-Illuminati, to launch and lead a psychedelic conspiracy to brainwash influential people for the purposes human betterment. "That's how everything of culture and beauty and philosophic freedom has been passed on," Huxley tells him. "Initiate artists, writers, poets, jazz musicians, elegant courtesans. And they'll educate the intelligent rich."

In Spring 1962, Mary Meyer, recently divorced from her CIA husband Cord, visited Leary at Harvard, telling him she has a "friend who's a very important man, who wants to try LSD for himself."  At the time, Leary did nott know about Mary’s affair with President Kennedy, which included more than thirty visits to the White House, confirmed by Presidential Secretary Kenneth O'Donnell.

Mary told Leary that the government wass studying ways to "use drugs for warfare, for espionage, for brainwashing." She asks him to "teach us how to run [LSD] sessions, use drugs to do good." Leary agrees. He provides her with drug samples and "session" reports, and is in touch with her every few weeks, advising her on how to be a "brainwasher." She swears him to secrecy.

In Fall 1962, Leary meets Mary Meyer in a room at Boston's Ritz Hotel. She alludes to her "hush-hush love affair," and tells him that "top people in Washington are turning on." According to Leary's recounting, she also says: "Do you remember the American Veterans Committee, that liberal veterans group you belonged to after the war? The CIA started that."

She confides that "CIA creates the radical journals and student organizations and runs them with deep-cover agents.... dissident organizations in academia are also controlled." When Leary asks her how she knows all this, she explains: "I knocked you with those facts to get your attention. It's a standard intelligence trick."

She confides that CIA has not only been running left-wing groups as fronts, but has been sponsoring more psychedelic research than he will ever know. "You are doing exploratory work the CIA tried to do in the 1950s. So they're more than happy to have you do their research for them. Since drug research is of vital importance to the intelligence agencies of this country, you'll be allowed to go on with your experiments as long as you keep it quiet,"

She gives him, for his experiments, a bottle of "the best LSD in the world," from the National Institute of Mental Health. She takes countersurveillance precautions, and says: "We had eight intelligent women turning on the most powerful men in Washington. And then we got found out.... I made a mistake in recruitment. A wife snitched on us... I've gotten mixed up in some dangerous matters."

December 1, 1963: Around this time Mary calls Leary, who had been "expecting a phone call from [her]... ever since the Kennedy assassination." According to Leary, she says: "They couldn't control him anymore. He was changing too fast. They've covered everything up.... I'm afraid. Be careful."

October 12, 1964: Mary Meyer is shot to death, execution-style, at 12:45 p.m., on a park towpath by the Georgetown Canal in Washington, D.C. Her body is identified by Ben Bradlee, Cord Meyer's brother-in-law, editor of the Washington Post. CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton confiscates and later burns the diary in which Mary has recorded her liaisons with JFK

1965-66: FBI agents openly surveil Leary's drug experimentation compound at Milbrook. January-August 1967: Ramparts, a radical magazine, exposes CIA sponsorship of the National Student Association, a Cord Meyer project. Meyer's best friend, James Angleton, assigns CIA officer Richard Ober to begin a leak investigation into the Ramparts story. Ober's probe is soon expanded into a spy program on the countercultural and student-protests movements, code named CHAOS.]

September 1967: Just as CHAOS is launched, Leary moves from the isolation of upstate New York, where he has been philosophically contemplating the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and becomes a gregarious, media-hounding fixture of the Southern California countercultural scene, telling young people to "Tune in, Turn On, Drop Out." While Leary's position does constitute a rejection of the corporate world, it also embraces private property and the profit motive.

1969: Leary critics will eventually point with suspicion to his close connections during this time to an international LSD-smuggling cartel, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, which is rumored to be a CIA front. The Brotherhood is controlled by Ronald Stark, whom an Italian High Court will later conclude has been a CIA agent since 1960, and the Brotherhood's funds are channeled through Castle Bank in the Bahamas, a known CIA "proprietary."

Ironically, the CIA, during its MKULTRA experimentation, initiated the 1960s' psychedelic explosion. This may have been unwitting but it may also have been a deliberate effort to undermine the anti-establishment protest culture of the time. In the late 1960s and early 70s, New York biochemist Ronald Stark was one of the world's leading suppliers of LSD (which he produced at his illicit laboratories in Europe); Stark was widely suspected (as he himself claimed) of being attached to the CIA project later to be revealed as MKULTRA.The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a hippie religious organisation based in Laguna Beach, California, supplied ample quantities of LSD to the local hippies and eventually acquired a sophisticated network of smuggling hashish and LSD to the whole United States.

Billy Hitchcock served as banker for the Brotherhood, maintaining an account with Castle Bank, which had been set up by the CIA as a front for covert narcotics and money laundering operations (see DEALING IN DEATH: The CIA and the Drugs Trade). Hitchcock also poured the sum of $5 million into "litter stocks" which were associated with Mary Carter Paint Company (known later as Resorts International), which was suspected of having links to organised crime. When the company constructed a casino in the Bahamas, the star guest on opening day was none other than Richard Nixon, who was about to run for president. Strange bedfellows indeed for influential figures involved in the psychedelic movement. (In 1970 Resorts International formed a private intelligence corporation called Intertel, which was staffed largely by ex-CIA, NSA, Interpol and Justice Department officials. Intertel rented its services to a wide range of corporate clients, including ITT, McDonald's and Howard Hughes' Summa Corporation).

Ronald Stark later took over Hitchcock's position of banker for the Brotherhood of Etemal Love and was involved in overseeing their LSD operation. For someone who was just known as a person helping the hippie movement, Stark kept a mysterious profile. He travelled to all the drug factories and hippie communes across the U.S., and stayed in rich hotels and private clubs, mingling with the rich and famous. He also operated a cocaine ring in the Bay Area. Since Stark took over the running of the Brotherhood, it became the single most productive manufacturer of LSD in the United States. 50 million doses (20 kilos) of the drug were mostly sold in the U.S. Stark was imprisoned in Italy from 1975 to 1979, following his involvement with a gang of drug-dealing fascist terrorists. While in jail in Bologna, he received a vast number of visitors from the British and American consulates. According to the judge who released him from prison in April 1979, "an impressive series of scrupulously enumerated proofs" showed that "from 1960 onwards, Stark belonged to the American secret services."


For two years Leary lives at Brotherhood headquarters, located on a ranch in Laguna Beach. During this period, the Brotherhood corners the U.S. market on LSD and begins distributing only one variety of the drug, "Orange Sunshine." Stark says he plans to distribute the product to CIA-backed guerillas fighting Chinese occupation; he reportedly knows a high-placed Tibetan close to the Dalai Lama, and wants to provide enough LSD to dose all Chinese troops in Tibet.

In the U.S., meanwhile, Stark provides enough Orange Sunshine to dose the hippie culture and radical left many times over. This is the "bad acid" on which Charles Manson's followers murder Sharon Tate, and on which Hell's Angels stab to death a black man during a concert by the Rolling Stones.

The Summer of Love has been supplanted by a Season of Hate. Because of this, many countercultural insiders -- including William S. Burroughs, White Panther leader John Sinclair, and Merry Prankster Ken Kesey -- theorize that Stark, Leary, and Orange Sunshine are all part of CIA plot to discredit and neutralize the radical left.

According to former radicals Martin Lee and Bruce Shalin, widespread use of Orange Sunshine "contributed significantly to the demise of the New Left, for it heightened the metabolism of the body politic and accelerated all the changes going on.  In its hyped-up condition, the New Left burned itself out."

Fall 1969: According to declassified government documents, CIA now has a CHAOS agent with "particularly good entree into the highest levels of the domestic radical community," who is providing "extremely personal data." It is decided to send this agent to infiltrate the overseas headquarters of the Black Panthers, but this will not be accomplished for many months.

In the meantime, CIA will debrief him for purely domestic information about his associates, in part because he does not "wish to deal with the FBI." This description perfectly fits Leary. No one has better "entree" than Leary, who has recently been helicoptered in as the guest of honor at Woodstock.

Working for CIA complicated, but ultimately did not preclude, Leary’s prosecution for a pot bust.  He wasn’t exactly chained to the wall in a dark cellar. In Lompoc, a plush minimum-security, white-collar "joint," Leary is still able to get acid.  Because he can provide valuable intelligence to the U.S. government, he is "liberated" from Lompoc in Sept. 1970 by members of the Weather Underground, an SDS offshoot.

According to Angleton's deputy, Scott Miler, in ealy October 1970, CIA is busy trying to answer the question: "What was Eldridge Cleaver doing in Algeria?" Curiously, Leary now flies to Algiers and joins up with Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver. Leary's travels, and the operation to spring him from jail, have been financed by Stark and the Brotherhood.  By October 21, 1970, a CIA memo reports prized CHAOS source is now overseas.

From November 1970 -May 1971, Cleaver grows suspicious of Leary, searches Leary's apartment "for documents proving that Leary and his wife were CIA operatives, and imprisons him in the Panthers' Algerian compound as "white slaves."

Leary and his wife escape to Switzerland with the assistance, according to Leary, of an "Algerian bureaucrat named Ali," who "made no bones about his connection to the CIA." "Are you sure you can trust him?" Leary's wife asks him. "He's liberal CIA," Leary says, "and that's the best mafia you can deal with in the twentieth century." The escape operation is financed by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, though checks drawn on CIA's Castle Bank.

1973-78: After two years of "jet-setting" in Switzerland, Leary returns to the U.S.  By his own account, this occured through the machinations of CIA.  Leary says they have "kidnapped" him.  Leary comes into the open as a government informant.  Under the code-name CHARLIE THRUSH, he turns State's evidence against the Weather Underground.  Freed from prison, he is taken into protective custody for fear that radical revolutionaries have marked him for execution.

1978-93: After his last offical contacts with security agencies, in 1978, Leary distances himself both from the government and the "movement" that no longer really exists. Out in the cold, he becomes a sophist in the true sense, a wise-man for rent or hire. Leary seems to the Left a lightweight, a one-man Madison Avenue scam, a functional part of the Establishment he once swore to subvert.

He also publishes Flashbacks: An Autobiography, recounting obliquely his dealings with Cord and Mary Meyer and his work as a government informant, touching only in passing on CIA's funding of LSD resarch. He designs computer software and hails the coming of the Information Superhighway. Though lacking family wealth, or any gainful employment since 1962, he has nevertheless managed to become a rich man.

In his “stand-up philosopher routine,” he said he would "brainwash" the audience, "not to resist or fight authority, but to engage it in a dialogue to force progressive change."  In Flashbacks, Leary admitted the LSD experiments at Harvard and Berkeley were paid for by CIA.  Asked if he had connections with the Agency, he became tight and defensive. "They never gave me a dime," he says. (Riebling).  But he dreamed his dysphoric dream aloud and engineered a massive cultural trance state.

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers planes
Riding shotgun in the sky
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation.